Rwanda is a landlocked country in Central Africa’s Great Rift Valley, where the African Great Lakes region and Southeast Africa merge. Rwanda is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is located a few degrees south of the Equator.
Its terrain is dominated by mountains in the west and savanna in the southeast, with numerous lakes throughout the country, earning it the moniker “land of a thousand hills.” The climate ranges from temperate to subtropical, with two rainy and two dry seasons each year.
Rwanda is the most densely inhabited mainland African country, with a population of over 12.6 million people living on 26,338 km2 (10,169 sq mi) of land. It is also the sixth most densely populated country in the world among countries greater than 10,000 km2. Kigali, Rwanda’s capital and largest city, with a population of one million people.
What is the problem with Rwanda’s plan?
Many issues remain unanswered about the government’s new policy of forcible removal of uninvited asylum seekers to Rwanda. Here are only a few examples.
1) How much does it cost to evict a refugee?
None of the briefings provide any insight. In the lack of it, how can the policy’s value for money be judged in comparison to the status quo?
2) What is the UK’s moral and legal obligation if horrible things happen to ejected refugees once they arrive in Rwanda (sickness, accident, attack)?
Even if Rwanda did not have a recent history of violating civil liberties and basic human rights, this would be a cause for alarm (see this report from the US state department).
3) Given that the UK and Rwanda have stated that only adults will be shipped to Rwanda, and the Home Office has stated that families will not be split up, how can the Home Secretary be confident that she has not created a perverse incentive for smugglers to transport entire families across the dangerous Channel crossing in perilous small boats, endangering the lives of more children?
The following is the Foreign Office’s evaluation of the LGBT+ community’s well-being and safety in Rwanda:
” Although homosexuality is not illegal in Rwanda, it is frowned upon by many people. LGBT people face prejudice and harassment from a variety of sources, including local governments. There are no anti-discrimination legislation in place to protect LGBT people.
Will LGBT asylum seekers be ejected to Rwanda or will they be exempted? Given the UK government’s stated position that LGBT individuals in Rwanda are at risk, will LGBT asylum seekers be removed to Rwanda or will they be exempted?
The UK’s perception of Rwanda is fundamentally uninformed.
Misconceptions regarding Rwanda are common. While writing about the small country – roughly twice the size of Yorkshire – to which we are sending our “migration problem,” I did so myself. With planes to Kigali on the way and President Paul Kagame requesting that alleged UK-based “génocidaires” be extradited to stand trial, I’m wondering if we truly know what we’re getting ourselves into.
It should not be necessary to rehearse the flaws in Priti Patel’s policy. Yet, because of Western ignorance and amnesia concerning Rwanda (and the rest of Africa’s Great Lakes region), the arguments against it need to be reinforced. Since the massacre, there has been a “blank ahistoricism” concerning Rwanda, as Rwanda researcher Michela Wrong has described it.
The assassination or abduction of rivals abroad, most notably allegations surrounding the cases of Patrick Karegeya (Kagame’s former intelligence chief, strangled in a Johannesburg hotel – the government has denied any involvement) and Paul Rusesabagina (subject of the film Hotel Rwanda, tricked into flying to Rwanda from Texas); the suppression of activists and journalists within Rwanda; and a poor hygienic situation